Aug 30, 2007

No Place Like Home #2

I stitched my second "No Place Like Home" by Pine Mountain Designs on 14ct Parchment aida with DMC threads. It took about the same amount of time to stitch up as the first one (7.5 hours). I'm debating on whether or not to frog the windows and restitch them in ecru. Opinions?

Aug 29, 2007

Mini Elephant Ears

It's county fair time, and what's one of the things you find at the fair? Huge as a paper plate, Elephant Ears!!

I have my own version in the miniature size...


White dinner roll dough (10 rolls)
Cooking oil
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
3 tbsp. butter (melted)

Thaw dough at room temperature for 2 hours. Heat oil in electric skillet to 375°F. Combine sugar & cinnamon; set aside. Flatten each piece of dough into a very flat ear shape. Fry, a few at a time for approximately 1 minute per side until browned. Drain on paper towels. Brush each side with butter & sprinkle generously with cinnamon-sugar.


What Is This? 8/18/07 Answer

A couple weeks ago, I put out a "What Is This?" challenge.

It's my lawnmower! A couple years ago, I needed a lawnmower and Freecycle came to my rescue! Actually, the freecycler had two mowers, neither of them worked. However, my Dad used to be a small engine mechanic and for about $2 he got this one running for me. It's worked great since then! Not bad for an 18yr mower, eh??

Have I said how much I like Freecycle?!?

Now for the really fun part. I really enjoyed the "creative" stories I received in response to the challenge! Thank you ladies. :) As promised, I put all the names of those with the correct answer in a "hat" for a prize from my stash.

The winner is....

*drum roll*

Anita Sorrells!!

Aug 28, 2007

Home Buying Update

Just a little update on my home buying process...

I talked to the mortgage specialist today and he said that everything is good to go. He is waiting on getting confirmation that my homeowner’s policy is paid and in effect. The insurance agent said she put the paperwork in the mail today. So, I am *that* much closer.

I received a letter yesterday from the bank informing me of my FICO score. I have a great score, but found two items to be interesting *shrugs*:

Code 05: You have too many accounts with balances. I have just 4 accounts with balances. Three of those are less than $100.

Code 30: Time since you opened your last account is too short. LOL, I thought a person wasn't supposed to be opening new accounts when trying to buy a house?

The appraisal came in for the house at $3000 higher than my offer! The title work came back clean, which I expected. Before I made an offer, I visited a title company I used to work for and did a preliminary title check.

It's been a week since the landlord received notification that I'm moving out at the end of September. They still haven't contacted me about it.

Several people (online and off) have offered to put a flaming bag of doggie doo-doo in front of my neighbor's door after I've moved out. Bad people... LOL!

On a sad note, I’ve found out that my realtor’s mother has been hospitalized with cancer in the esophagus. From what I understand, she’s very sick.

Aug 27, 2007

Monday Update 8/27/07

My neck and shoulder pain is getting better. A week of chiro and electro therapy will do that, I guess. I'm still in constant pain, but it's not nearly as bad as it was the beginning of last week. I try to put ice on it three times a day and it temporarily makes the pain go away. I find myself compensating by using my left arm a lot, which is very awkward.

I have a follow-up CT scan on my sinuses on Friday. This is to see whether the 21-days of antibiotics did anything. The doc told me on the last visit, the next step would be surgery. I'm not sure I want to go that route. *sigh*

No, not me... not yet, anyway. My brother is selling his house and has to be out by Tuesday. Over the weekend, I helped him pack and clean. He made it clear to everyone that I was not to be lifting anything because my neck and shoulder is messed up. Again, I did a lot with my left hand. By Saturday evening, my shoulder was a hurtin’ puppy. Sunday, wasn’t too bad.

Suzy Homemaker
Remember all the tomato pics from last week? I picked those luscious, ripe, red tomatoes and made salsa. Actually, I canned it. I ended up with 7 pints of salsa. I think I used too much cilantro and it could use a bit more spice, but for my first time it’s pretty tasty!

I also used up the cucumbers that I got from a lady on Freecycle. (Have I said how cool Freecycle is?) I ended up making 2 gallons of yummy, crispy refrigerator pickles. They won’t be ready for at least a week. Ohhh... the tortuous wait... :)

Stitchy Stuff
In addition to starting and finishing “No Place Like Home” (see previous post), I started a second one. I’m about 1/3 of the way done with it.

The fall semester started last week. I’m taking an online Beginning Excel class. At the end of Week 1, I managed to complete seven assignments and one quiz. I’m over halfway done with what is required for the class. My intention is to finish this class before I move, so that I don’t have added pressure. I was informed by the instructor that the Advanced Excel class can be taken online by instructor permission. I may go that route since I’m signed up for the on-campus class.

Aug 25, 2007

No Place Like Home

***Happy Dancing*** I have a finish! I have a finish! I was PIF'd (Pass It Foward) "No Place Like Home" by Pine Mountain Designs by my friend Lisa who received the PIF from Angie.

I totally changed the colors on it as well as left off some elements. I stitched it on 14ct Parchment aida with Six Strand Sweets floss. It took me 7.5 hours over 2 days to stitch up. I'm going to be making it into a flatfold soon.

Aug 20, 2007


It has recently come to my attention that a former member of a group I moderate is carrying on a vendetta and distorting my involvement. In this post, my intention is to clear up my position.

What happened? Over a year ago, the owner of this group inadvertently sent an email to the group that was meant for the moderators. In this email, the owner expressed her upset over this member alledgedly gathering email addresses from the group’s member database and sending invitations to them for her group. The owner was mortified by her error of sending this email to the group. The member was upset by the email going to the group. At that time, I tried to keep the conflict on the group to a minimum. In doing so, they believe the group owner put me up to it, when in fact I was just trying to keep the damage from being worse than it was. The member unsubbed, and has been carrying around negativity about it a year later.

This member (Brandi) and several of her online “friends” use every chance and every avenue they get to instigate confrontation. The group owner has taken the stance to ignore them. Recently, this member sent an email addressed to the group owner and mods. Until this email arrived, I hadn’t given the incident a thought. After all, it happened a YEAR ago!

She is also peeved because she wanted to be in an exchange but didn’t want to have an international partner. Since the group is international, everyone is expected to mail internationally or not participate. After being told this by the coordinator, she was offended. I have seen the email from the moderator to Brandi and in no way was it rude or offensive.

Since I am a moderator, I took it upon myself to address some of the comments made in the recent email. Keep in mind the email was address to Owner & Mods. Repeatedly, I asked Brandi whether she really wanted to resolve the conflict or if she just wanted to feel vindicated. You know the type... The ones who want to stand at the top of the hill and puff out their chest shouting “I’m the winner!!” with a big grin on their face. That was the impression I got from the emails. I have read her comments regarding the emails we passed back and forth. She has stated she “told me off” when in reality she did no such thing. I have all of the emails. She admits in her email that I was trying to take the higher ground. Isn’t that what conflict resolution is all about? And if I’m taking the higher ground, does that mean she’s taking the lower ground? Hmmm... Something to think about.

I recently came across a post on Vickie Ridge’s blog where she refers to me as “Kelly’s Bitch” (excuse the profanity). She is one of the online “friends” I mentioned above. I have no dealings whatsoever with Vickie other than reading her comments on a group for owners and moderators. Yet, she is jumping on the bandwagon and calling me a bitch? She doesn’t even know me.

All of these people seem to think that Kelly has put me out front to deal with these people. In reality, Kelly had no idea that I attempted to resolve this year-long vendetta/conflict. It’s sad that people choose to play the victim and carry around the anger and negativity that they do. Personally, I think they are being ridiculous and acting like high school girls.

In Brandi’s last email to me where she asked: “Do you honestly believe that the way you treat the members of ILCS is fair and equal to how you treat yourselves (mods and owner)?” In her attempt to dismiss me, she made it clear in that email she wasn’t “wasting anymore time” on me. So I didn’t answer the question. In not answering, she used the lack of response to add fuel to the fire on Vickie’s blog. I responded to her question there, but I’m sure it will be deleted because they really don’t want to resolve the issue or deal with it in an adult manner. For goodness sake, who carries around something like that for a year??

I also would like to add that I posted a chart on the group and Brandi asked for it. It wasn’t anything great and I told her so. She said she didn’t care, so I sent it to her. So if I, in my role as mod, am such a bad person, why would I do that? If I don’t treat members equally, why would I send it to her?

Their problem with me lies in the fact that I took it upon myself to respond to an email that was addressed to Owners and MODS. In a recent post Brandi tells me: “Crawl back under your stone unless you have something more to say.”

LOL... Very adult, Brandi.

Monday Update 8/20/07

Freecycle is great! Last week, I put sent out a message for a bicycle pull behind. You know, one of those things you can pull a child in while bicycling. A freecycler came through! S and I picked it up last night. It should work just fine, with a little cleaning up.

In addition, I've been freecycling my own stuff like crazy. So far I've given away: a breadmaker, plants, two boxes of misc household items, books, a hand vac, and clothes.

Stitchy Stuff
We had some sad news this week. A 23-year old soldier from my area died in Iraq last weekend. I quickly asked for his name so that I can stitch a memorial for him.

I am going to do The Cricket Collection's "Red White & Blue".

Believe it or not, I've managed to stitch on Mime. Two nights this past week, I spent about an hour working on it. If I'm lucky, it'll be finished by the end of the year. Woo Hoo!

The fall semester is starting up again next week. I am taking an online Beginning Excel class. In Oct, the advanced class starts and I'm signed up for that, too. It'll be interesting to see how these two classes will pan out taking both together. I have extensive Excel experience so I'm hoping for the best. I tried to klep out, but that's not an option for these classes. :(

The pole beans didn't turn out as beefy as I would've liked. They're sort of stringy and I don't like 'em that way. After freezing the first batch, I've left the rest on the vines. The tomatoes are turning red, and I've been able to harvest a few at a time.

Lastly, my flowers are really pretty right now.

I spent all day cleaning, purging, and packing boxes. I had a big pile of empty boxes in my living room. I'm down to 3 empty ones. Here's what it looks like so far:

I really don't know what I did, but on Sunday I had pain running down the side of my neck all the way to my right shoulder blade. It was a nagging pain all day and got worse Sunday night. I spent most of my evening lying down with heat and ice trying to get it to feel better, but it didn't help.

Aug 18, 2007

Why Do I....

...hear water running???

Saturday afternoon.

I'm in my dining room packing my stuff, getting ready for the move. Yes, I know it's still a month and a half away! I'm eager, what can I say?

The washer and dryer are running in the basement. All is well, until...

I hear water running. And it's running like it's in the next room! I run down to the basement to find that the tub the washer drains into is overflowing all over the floor!!! WTH! I quickly shut off the washer, as water is running everywhere. I found the plunger and start plunging away inside the tub. Next thing I know, it starts draining AND the drain in the floor of the basement starts bubbling! I'm thinkin' they're somehow connected... Now that's a scary thought.

What could happen next?


From TeeJay
Over the past month, TeeJay and I have been getting to know each other through emails and blogging. I've thoroughly enjoyed our communication and reading her blog. :) Imagine my surprise when she asked for my snail mail addy because she wanted to send me a little something. She wouldn't tell me what, though! Here's what arrived in the mail:

The one with the bunny is a needleminder. Isn't it great?! Sadly, the US Postal Service destroyed the packaging and the bottom part of the little box. :( TJ told me that the box came from Walmart, so I'm going to go get another one. Like S said: The good part (the stitching) was not ruined.

Thank you TeeJay, for think of me. :)

From Mel
A while back, Melanie tried her hand at hand-dyeing threads. She is having so much fun doing it! She must have fibers coming out her ears by now. ;-) Mel sent me a few of her threads. They're really pretty. Thanks, Mel!

From Trecie
Trecie was one of my students in my online Needlebook Class. She sent me a note of thanks, along with this personalized tissue holder. Those ladies are just divine! She did such a good job on it. :) Thank you, Trecie. :)

From Mary
I feel really bad that it's taken me so long to acknowledge these wonderful gifts from Mary. She sent these to me as a 'thank you' for coordinating a bookmark RR on one of the stitching groups. Included was three SSS fibers to add to my collection, Orient Expressions leaflet by Stoney Creek, and an assortment of MH beads. What a generous gift. Thank you so much, Mary!

From Denise
My nieces are always "bugging" me about teaching them how to stitch. Last year I bought them the plastic canvas kits thinking they would be easy for them to do. At 6 and 8, they had a hard time. Denise sent me a bunch of floss left over from a kit she did. I thought this would be great to teach my nieces. I'll just give them a blank piece of aida and let them go to town! Thanks, Denise!

What Is This?

OK, here's a little quiz for you... What is this a picture of?

In addition to your guess, you have to make up a little background story to go with your answer.

The answer has to be specific. For instance, "clothing" is too generic. You have to say what *kind* of clothing. Saying "Clothing I that was found at Walmart" is too generic for the story. Think: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How. Of course, we all know this is not clothing!!

Use your imagination!

The winner will receive something from my stash, so be sure to leave your email address! If there's more than one with the correct answer, names will be put into a hat and one winner will be drawn.

To qualify, you have to leave your answer, and the story that goes along with it in a comment on this blog. If you don't have a blogger account, you can sign in under "Anonymous"... just remember to sign your name so I know who you are. :) Contest ends August 25th.

Aug 15, 2007

The Latest Gossip

I'd forgotten all about this until my landlady called me tonight. About a month ago, my neighbor told my landlady that she was looking to buy a house and had a realtor helping her. My landlady asked the neighbor if she had a loan pre-approval yet. The neighbor replied: "Oh, am I supposed to have that?" In telling me this story a month ago, the landlady said to me: "How's she supposed to know how much she can spend if she doesn't have a pre-approval?" Yeah. Duh.

Fast forward to tonight. The landlady called me about the two big tree limbs that were in the backyard. I had told her on Monday two huge limbs fell out of the next house over's tree which hangs over my yard. Anywho... after that little chat, the landlady goes on to tell me that the neighbor told her that she still plans to be out by Sept and that now she's working on getting pre-approval and still working with a realtor (How's that for a run-on sentence? LOL). So I say to myself: "Self, how long did it take you to get pre-approval?" Self answers back: "Ummm... about 4 days." Bottom line, neighbor should already have pre-approval by now.

With that said, during the phone conversation with my landlady I kept thinking to myself "You should tell her! You should tell her!", but I just couldn't do it. I'll have to write a letter. I'm such a chicken...

Refreshing Change

I had my first contact with the loan processor at the bank where I will be getting my mortgage. After exchanging and confirming information regarding the loan, he told me that his job was: "To make this process as easy and smooth as possible for me." He then proceeded to give me his manager’s contact info in case I couldn’t get hold of him at any given time, or if I had feedback regarding the process. How’s that for customer service?

I should give some background on my bank. The nearest brick and mortar is about 2 hours away. Over two four years ago, I opened my account online. Why would I open an account like this? Because I have direct deposit, my account is free. So is the online banking/bill pay. My local bank (That I have been a customer for at LEAST 18 yrs) didn’t offer free online banking/bill pay. They charge customers to have copies of their checks included with the bank statement. They have sooooo many “rules” in place that excludes me from taking advantage of their ‘good’ programs. So, I keep a minimal amount of money in my local bank in case I need to cash a check or something. Otherwise everything goes to the online bank. I’ve never set foot inside a brick and mortar. I’ve only had one problem, which was getting the PIN changed when I first opened the account. It was resolved in a short amount of time with very little aggravation. Now, I’m giving them my mortgage business. Again, I applied online and was pre-approved in no time. I’m getting a mortgage where:

1. I don’t have to escrow taxes or insurance. Most banks REQUIRE this. I can do this myself, and earn interest on my money in the process.

2. No closing costs. The bank is picking these up.

3. No PMI, even though I don’t have a 20% downpayment.

4. The bank is paying premiums for unemployment/disability insurance for the first year. The policy will pay up to 6 months of mortgage payments if I’m disabled or unemployed. After the first year, I can choose to continue it or cancel the policy.

I’m thrilled with the program the bank is offering me. So far, I’m thrilled with the customer service I’ve gotten. Everyone that I’ve dealt with in the past few years has always been helpful. It’s rarity these days.

SBQ - Humble Beginnings

How did you get started stitching? Was there a person that inspired you?

Two previous posts answer this question:
Set of Firsts
History...A Stitching Meme

Aug 13, 2007


Saturday morning.

Telephone rings.

Realtor on the other end: “Pack your bags. You’re the owner of a new house!”

WOO HOO! After I got off the phone, I was practically jumping up and down!!! (If you knew me, you'd know I don't get excited about too many things. LOL) The cute little bungalow-style house is on it's way to being mine.

The seller agreed to my latest offer, which was $9900 less than her original asking price (and $2K less than what she paid for the house 3 yrs ago), plus she will be fixing everything listed in the repair rider, plus she’s giving me all the personal property I asked for except for a sofa (The PP was just a bargaining tool), PLUS the seller’s realtor is buying me the 5-star home warranty plan so if ANYTHING needs replaced within the first year, it’s covered except for a one time $75 deductible.

I am proud of how well I did. :-D By the end of September, I will be in my very own home. Yippee Yay!!! *Happy Dancin*

I received a copy of the signed contract and faxed it to my bank to get the financing rolling. All the stuff I had to take out of the basement is now stacked against the wall in the dining room and will stay there until I move. I got a bunch of boxes from my sister to start packing. She’s in the process of moving now.

I need to give notice to my landlord, and don’t really know how to go about it. I’ve rented from them for 6 years. Hopefully, they’ll give me my deposit back! Maybe I’m making more of it than I should, but I dislike conflict.

Here's what people had to say:

Gayle: CONGRATULATIONS !!!!!!!!!!!!! That is great news. You will have new neighbors, no more sagas to read about in your blogs. What a shame.

Angie: AWESOME!!! The landlord should give you your deposit back..but who knows...Congrats on your house!!

Selina: woohoo, congrats. That's wonderful news :) Please share some inside
pictures once you move in :)

Sarah W: So happy for you Meari

Betty W: Congratulations, Meari~! I wouldn't worry about the landlord being unhappy that you're moving out .... it's not like you're going to another rental property! I'm sure you'll get your deposit back w/o problem.

Carolyn B: Congratulations!!!!

Sue: WHOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOO Meari!!!!! I am so happy for you!!!! There is nothing like owning your own home!!!! I hope your new neighbors are much nicer than the ones you have now!!!!!!

Dee in TN: CONGRATULATIONS, Meari. You deserve this.

Jaunice: WOOHOOOO Congratulations. I bet you are so excited. Have fun in your new house.

Sharyn: How wonderful.........Congratulations on your new home!

Mar: Congratulations Meari! : ) It's so nice knowing you really liked the bungalow so much. So excited for you!!

Petra: ***Squeel**** That's terrific news!! Congratulations!! It's great that you are buying your first home and all the best on the process.

Annette: I second what Petra said! Congrats!

Heidi M: Congratulations! It is soo nice to have your own house. You will love it!

Debra in IN: Meari, that is wonderful news. I am so happy for you.

Nancy M: Congrats Meari!! Always an exciting time when you get to move!! Will hate to see your stories of *nice* neighbors stop though!!!

Tracy W: Congratulations Meari - you must be so excited! I wonder what the new neighbours will be like LOL!

Faith: Congratulations Meari! Owning your own home is a wonderful feeling! I wish you all the happiness in the world in your new home!

Rene: WOOHOO...doing a happy dance for you!!!! I see a cyber housewarming party in our future.

Renee H: Congratulations Meari!!! That's awesome news!!

Tracey: Wow! Congrats on being a new home owner :)

Lisa: Woohoo! Congratulations, Meari!!! You will LOVE owning your own home! Keep us posted!

Donna B: How Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No more grass/mowing issues - nasty neighbors!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Milly B: WOOOOHOOOOOOO...congratulations!


Pam K: Yey Meari! Congratulations!!! You have every right to be excited and proud of your negotiating!! I hope your move goes well and that you absolutely love your new home!!! Don't put off telling your landlord. They will appreciate all the notice you give them, I'm sure. But do give them a firm date of your move, you may have to wait until you get your closing date. You don't want them to rush you out before you're ready to move! Yey!! I'm happy for you!

Margaret K: Congratulations to you Meari. What a busy and exciting time for you come. Hope you really enjoy your new home.

Lynne M: Congrats on the new house, Meari. Look forward to seeing photos

Cynthia W: Yay...although I am one who will miss the Tale of ATGG....gonna hafta find some other poor blogger with neighbors from Hades... CAUSE it is NOT gonna follow YOU!!

Leslie: That is great Meari, congrats on the new house and even BIGGER congrats on the new neighbors.

Linda in MA: Congratulations Meari! Hopefully yours neighbors will be much nicer.

Melinda H: Congratulations Meari! That is exciting!

Eva: Congratulations Meari!! Hope you can move in soon!

Deborah: CONGRATULATIONS! ! ! I know it has been a rough road for you, but the end is in sight. Appears EVERYTHING is going your way finally. Nobody deserves happiest more than you girlfriend!!

Susan: Congratulations Meari! The best of luck with the new house.

Lavon: That's wonderful news!! I know you'll be happy to get away from your neighbors. :)

Monique: CONGRATULATIONS!!! Wonderful news :) And seems like good timing, since you are having to clean out your basement anyway.

Kathy K: Way to go! Congratulations on your offer being accepted. Especially since you had already started your packing when you were cleaning up after the basement flooding. :) Sounds like you made out on the deal too. I hope that all goes smoothly for you.

Dr Patricia: Congratulations, Meari! Getting to move to your new home should help you freecycle and pitch plenty of stuff! Take care of yourself especially with the sinuses and the flooded basement (MOLD!!!) and the heat (you ARE wearing a mask despite the annoyance and the heat, yes? I don't always take my own advice :-) I'm so excited for you! And just like one of your blog posters said, send a letter (registered, signature required) giving 30 days notice, and try to keep yourself out of your neighbor's way for your last days there.

Julie B: Congrats on your new home Meari. Wonderful feeling isn't it?

Cheryl M: Congratulations! I can’t wait to see pics!!!

Karin: Congratulations Meari!!!!!

Tinna: Congratulation. That is wonderful to you.

Kayle: Meari, I am so thrilled for you Congratualtions!!!!

Elaine H: Big Congratulations Meari!! How exciting for you! We will all miss reading about the neighbors though. :op I think you need to print up all your blog entries about the neighbors and write an Erma Bombeck type book. :o) It would be hilarious and I would buy it! Heck, I'll be your ghost writer! LoL

Cherie: That is soo cool!!! Good luck and great dreams in the new home!!

Diane in UK: Congratulations Meari!!! I moved into my own place last November, and there really is nothing like *really* making a house your own. And for most crafters, it is heaven on earth planning out what you can do and where and how you want to make it!!! As has been suggested on your blog, take photos of before and after. It will really surprise you just how different you can make a home, as you put your own personal stamp on your new home! It sounds as though you got a real bargain there - as long as there is room for your crafting things, of course! That's a definite must! LOL! I wish you all the best, and don't forget to keep us all informed on your progress, both before and after the move. I love hearing about things like this!

Kathie: Congrats, Meari! Here's to better neighbors!

Mare: Congrats Meari! Wishing you all the best as a new home owner.

Josephine: Congratulations Maeri. I'm sure you'll love your new home. I bet you can't wait to move in. I remember how excited I was with my first home and this one too.

Rita: Congratulations, Meari!!!

Marl: Congratulations Meari. I can tell you are excited and also glad to get away from those neighbours. This will be your own to do what you want.

Giving Back

I know I’ve said this before, but Freecycle is a wonderful thing! Over the weekend, I went through a bunch of my stuff and listed it on Freecycle. Books, computer keyboard, indoor grill, bicycle, children’s toy kitchen, clothes, breadmaker... They’re all going to new homes.

I met a lady that my heart went out to: She, her husband, and their 7yr daughter moved here from Chicago three years ago. She told me where she lived before had 21 murders in one week! The girl’s bicycle was to be for her daughter. The night before she came to pick it up, their car was repo’d. Apparently, her husband had brain surgery in April and hadn’t been able to work. Since they had no car, the lady had planned on riding the girl’s bike to wherever she needed to go. After the bike was picked up, I got to thinking that I had an adult bike in the garage that I hadn’t ridden in 6yrs. S had the same thought as me: Give her the bike! So I emailed her back and she walked to my house once again to get the adult bike. She was very grateful, and I it made me feel good giving back to someone less fortunate to me.

Another lady asked for the breadmaker and clothes. In her email, she said she’d bring me more cucumbers and zucchini if I wanted it. Way cool! A couple weeks ago, she’d put an ad on Freecycle about excess cucumbers and I got some then. I just used the last of them to make refrigerator pickles.

Yup. Freecycle is a great place to give/receive to keep things from cluttering up the landfills. Join your local Freecycle by going to!

Aug 12, 2007

One of Life's Embarassing Moments

My Mom was kind of enough to wash all my clothes that were laying on the basement floor when the flood occurred. This included almost ALL my intimate apparel. My parents live in the country on a fixed single income and are frugal when it comes to using the dryer. Needless to say, my mother hung ALL my intimates on the clothesline outside. It's far enough away from the road that the neighbors couldn't see. However, my DAD could. I could tell my mother was embarassed by all my silk and lace underthings by the comment she made: "I hided 'em under your pants in the basket." LOL Who's she hiding them from?

Tagged for 10 Things

I was tagged by Barb.

The rules are you are suppose to tell 10 wierd things about yourself and then tag 10 other people.

1. I'm allergic to everything under the sun that one could be allergic to... except cockroaches. Go figure.

2. Family and friends say I'm a nerd.

3. I am particular about the way my towels are folded. I've been this way since I was a teenager doing laundry at home. (Don't tell my Mom, but I'm re-folding the towels that she washed for me... after my flooding incident.)

4. My idea of cleaning is not "out of sight, out of mind". I'd rather clean just a little and put things away where they belong than to clean the entire house and "hide" everything wherever.

5. I need at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep in order to be able to function the next day.

6. I don't like yogurt or cottage cheese. Everything else is fair game. I will try anything once.

7. When I get interested in a hobby, I go into it full force until I get tired of it. Then I move onto another one. Luckily, the "moving on" part doesn't happen too quickly.

8. I am so accident-prone that I have tripped on a sidewalk on more than one occassion. Twice I have tripped and sprained my ankle. *knock on wood* The sprains haven't happened in a couple years.

9. I often have bruises on me and have NO IDEA where or how I got them.

10. I am afraid of heights, yet I think it would be cool to go sky diving. Just once... So I can say I did it.

I'm supposed to tag 10 people, but I'm going to be lazy this time. *Tag* to whoever wants to play along.

I Feel...

...just awful this morning. I've been cleaning and pitching since Tuesday. It's been hot and humid on top of it. I've managed to go through everything in the basement and it's mostly dry again, but smells terrible.

Since the landlords have rented a dumpster, I thought it'd be good to take advantage of it and go through the rest of my stuff, which I spent yesterday doing. By 3pm, I was so tired that when I sat down to take a break and watch a few minutes of a movie I feel asleep sitting up!

I woke up this morning with a migraine the size of Manhattan, my back hurts, my sinsuses are acting up, and I feel sick to my stomach. I'm thinking yesterday's heat has something to do with this. In essence, I feel terrible! I want to go through the stuff in both attics -- It will be HOT in there!!! I've been Freecycling stuff like crazy. Tomorrow, they come to pick up the dumpster, so I am pushing myself to get as much done as I can. *sigh*

Aug 10, 2007

Just A Waiting Game

Found out what the $1500 was spent on. Tub surround. Let me first say that my first impression walking into the bathroom was "Oh MY God, that HAS to go." What was it? They had used 3x3" ceramic tile as the tub surround AND continued to tile up the wall and covered the entire ceiling of the bathroom. It looks terrible! Not only that, there is no exhaust fan in the bathroom so the mold and mildew accumulates in the grout. How the heck is one to clean the ceiling, is what I wondered. Hence, it's got to go. And this woman actually paid $1500 to have this done? It's nothing special either.

Seeing as I used to work at a land title company, I know that they keep purchase price and mortgages on record. My realtor was worried that the seller had an upside down mortgage.

What is an upside down mortgage? An unwanted financial position that consumers find themselves in when the outstanding balance of a loan is higher than the current fair market value of the property.

I paid a visit to my former employer and asked them if they could help me with the info I was looking for. The seller is not in financial straits in regards to this property, market values, and the mortgage being held. Sometimes, sellers will try to hide the fact that there's more than one mortgage on the property. It isn't the case here, though.

We presented yet another counter offer and raised it $1K (My realtors wanted me to stay at my previous offer, but I think I'm offering good faith by upping it a bit.) and insisted the home warranty be included because the appliances and furnace/CA are very old. Since the seller came back with a counter offer within 4 hours yesterday, we're only giving them 12 hours to respond. Obviously, they don't need 24 hours.

Just a waitin'....

More Flood Clean Up

I went to Shopko last night and bought the last 3 see-thru 78qt bins they had (on sale). I started repacking stuff that didn't get ruined, and had been in boxes that got wet and fell apart. I probably need about 5 more. Might go back and see if they'll give me a raincheck for the sale price.

Maybe the flood was a blessing in disguise... it's forcing me to go through stuff and get rid of a lot. I discarded more stuff out of the basement. The dumpster was emptied sometime Wednesday and after last night is already 1/3 full.

Don't EVER make a 50/50 solution of bleach water! LOL, that is some strong stuff!!! My intention was to santize the basement walls and floor to kill some of the mold/mildew that apparently is growing. Thus, reducing and/or eliminating the AWFUL smell. Let me tell you... 50/50 solution is condusive to burning eyes and inflamed sinuses! I only did a few small 4x4' sections (maybe that big) and I had to high tail it outta the basement cuz I couldn't take it anymore.

Trotted on down to the basement this morning and I'll be darned if the basement STILL smells bad. *sigh* I'm thinking my efforts maybe be futile...

Aug 9, 2007

The *Real* Negotiations Begin

My realtor called the seller's realtor around 3pm today and presented them with my counter offer, which was $4K below the seller's counter offer. Within 4 hours, the seller's realtor was on the horn to my realtor with another counter offer. Their offer was $2500 above my offer and they took away the home warranty ($400 value). Both my realtors... well, one is the assistant... think the seller is desperate since they called back so soon. My realtors want me to stand firm at my offer for now and are going to call the seller's realtor back tomorrow at 4:45pm to tell them. We have until 5pm to make a decision. We're going to make them sweat it out. LOL

The other thing we have in our favor besides it being a buyer's market is that the house has been on the market for 255 days and no offers whatsoever.

Another interesting note: The seller told her agent that she put $1500 worth of work into the bathroom. Both my realtor and myself think she's full of crap if she thinks we'd believe that. There is NOTHING in that bathroom that is new. The toilet doesn't even flush right. The linoleum on the floor is stained around the toilet which means at one point it leaked. There was new flexible hose on the toilet, but that didn't cost $1500. The shower or sink fixtures aren't even new. My realtor said that if she spent $1500 then she got ripped off.

I'm taking TeeJay's advice and finding out exactly what the $1500 was spent on since I can't see where that amount of money was spent on the bathroom. I also have a call into my realtor to find out how long the current owner has owned the home, how much she paid for it, and how much mortgage she's carrying. It'll take some detective work...

Declared State Disaster

The governor has declared the county I live in and the county just west of me, state disaster areas due to the massive amounts of flooding that occurred Monday night. According to city officials, at one point the city received 6” of rain in a 30 minute time span. Torrential rains hit my area around midnight Monday/Tuesday and continued ALL night long.

I was without hot water for a day and a half because the landlord couldn’t get the water heater to stay lit. Finally, he called a plumber who fixed it sometime last night. The dumpster is full and will be emptied/returned today so more stuff can be tossed.

I have an extension cord running from the kitchen to the basement to run the extra fans. Even with the basement door open just a crack for the cord, the smell from the basement is AWFUL. Instantly, my allergies and asthma kick up and I can “taste” the mold/mildew in my lungs... if that makes sense.

I am grateful that it wasn’t worse than it is. I know there are other people who had water in their basements up to the first floor. The neighbor’s daughter was really irritating me the way she was “carrying on” about how bad this sucked, how gross it was cleaning the basement each and every time she made a trip to the dumpster. I felt like telling her to suck it up and be quiet already. We all know it sucks and it’s unpleasant, but there’s really nothing we can do about it. She’s not the only one in the neighborhood that has to deal with it.

Aug 8, 2007

Negotiations Are On

I finally got word today around 4pm from my realtor. Like we knew they would, the seller countered my offer. My realtor was very pleased. They countered with a price $3K below what they were originally asking and $6K above what I offered. They agreed to all the contingencies for making repairs. They also agreed to paying for a home warranty ($400 value). They also agreed to leaving all the personal property we listed: window treatments, chair, dining room table and chairs, stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, garbage dispoal, all attached light fixtures, and the washer/dryer. My realtor suggested I counter with an offer somewhere in the middle, so I did. I'll find out what the seller says Friday by 5pm.

Surprisingly, I haven't been anxious or worried about any of this.

Tonight, my Dad says to me: "I wanna know something. If you move, who will your neighbors argue with?" Haha... Funny, Dad.

UPDATE: My realtor called to tell me that she presented the offer to the seller's realtor who seemed pleased with it. Hopefully, by tomorrow I'll know whether or not it was accepted. My realtor said if she finds out tonight, she will definitely call me.

What A Day!!

In addition to cleaning up the mess after the flood, I had a second showing at the little brick bungalow house. It was kinda good that it had rained so much because then I could see how wet the basement at that house got. Much to my surprise, there wasn't much water in it at all. S and I throughly checked faucets, toilets, AC, dishwasher, stove, lights, etc. We checked the attic for leakage (no leaks!). I looked at the circuit box and outlets.

Guess what? I made an offer!!! The seller has until 5:30pm today to accept/deny or counter the offer. Since the house has been on the market for almost a year, my realtor suggested I make a low offer with contingencies to fix everything that we found that needed repairs. Her boss suggested the seller offer up a home warranty. The offer also asked for a bunch of personal property that's in the house. All negotiating tools.

Surprisingly, I slept pretty well last night. Well, except for the aches and pains associated with the "clean up."

I Needed To Downsize Anyway...

Had a staff meeting in another office 45 minutes away yesterday. That meant I had to roll out of bed early to get there by 8:30am... I went through my usual morning routines: vitamins, breakfast, check my email, let the dog out, give her food and water, blah... blah... blah. Then realize that I needed to throw some clothes in the dryer so I have something to wear.

I start walking down the stairs to the basement where the laundry area is... What the?!!! There was at LEAST 6" of water in my basement. Plastic storage tubs were laying on their sides... stuff was floating in the water. I was in the middle of the water before I realized the dehumidifier was attached to an extension cord that was still plugged in. Yikes! I yanked the plug from the wall and waded my way through the water. Not even two days before, I had sorted laundry and it was all laying on the floor covered in water.

Why was there so much water? It had rained and rained and rained all night long. We had flash floods and my basement had filled to at least 8" of water. It was worse than last Labor Day. (I got halfway to my staff meeting and received a phone call that it was cancelled due to flooding.) As I ascended the basement steps, I thought to myself.... "Well, I've been wanting to downsize." LOL... Gotta maintain a sense of humor.

My guess is that there was at least 12" of water in my backyard, since debris caught in the fence was that high. Heavy stuff in my garage floated from the sides to the center. The electric "eyes" for the garage door openers shorted out. The landlord now has to replace the entire opener system on both sides (the neighbor's and mine). I still don't know if my washer and dryer work properly after sitting in so much water.

I had all my stuff on 3" plastic pallets... lotta good THAT did! Everything sitting directly on the pallets had to be gone through and any books and school papers are being tossed. I took a half day off work and started the clean up.

I had to wring all the clothes by hand. My Mom said she'd wash everything so I took 4 big baskets of wet clothes to her. I was going to take them to the laundromat, but figured it'd be more time efficient for Mom to do it while I cleaned the mess in the basement. Gotta love my Dad... As I was getting ready to leave their house, he says to me: "Need any help?" LOL, he doesn't even have his stitches out from surgery yet! (That's all I need is for him to be falling down the basement stairs.)

Three hours later and barely making a dent, I was sick of the clean up and my temperament was getting a bit aggravated, but I forged on. My sister came to help since I was storing a bunch of her stuff in the basement. Not even 5 minutes after she arrived, I fell down the last 4 or 5 stairs to the basement. I jammed both wrists and smashed the back of my head against a step. I have a huge bump on my head! My neck and my wrist hurt! My sister grabbed an ice pack out of the freezer and I had her get 4 ibuprofen. I could tell I'd be having a headache soon.

After about 10 minutes, I was back at cleaning. I had carpeting that needed to be pulled up and still lots of water that needed to be dried up... and of course, lots of boxes that needed to be gone through.

You'd think falling down the stairs would be enough damage for one day. But noooo... I dropped a plastic pallet on one of my toes (Yes, I was barefoot walking through the wet basement because I didn't want my shoes to get nasty). I have a big black bruise on that toenail. No wonder it hurt like an SOB when it happened!!! It almost hurt worse than hitting my head.

While my sister was there, S showed up and helped remove the carpeting. He also put a big AC unit in the basement window to help dry up the water. A little while later, the landlord showed up to assess the damage. He re-lit the water heater and made sure the furnace/CA worked OK. I wasn't about to start any of those things on my own. He's going to be renting a dumpster for us to get rid of the garbage. My backyard is strewn with wet boxes and "stuff".

By 10pm, most of the basement floor was dry but it smelled VERY VERY musty. My asthmatic lungs were reeling from being in the damp environment all day.

Aug 6, 2007

Number Crunching

I'm pretty spoiled in that the rent and utilities I currently pay are relatively inexpensive. In buying a home, I don't want to be getting into a situation where I would be putting all my money into the place I live and not be able to enjoy life. That'd be too stressful!

The "accountant" in me has comes out to play whenever I might be interested in a home to buy. On each of the two houses I've been interested in, I've crunched the numbers to see if I could really afford the payments, taxes, insurance, and utilities.

I was pleased to learn that I not only can afford the bungalow at the asking price (but I'm not going to pay asking price!), I would also have enough money to make improvements over time. How great is that?!

I talked to my bank again today and got re-approved for a loan. The other approval expired the end of last month. The loan officer was very friendly and very helpful. In addition to a "no fee" mortgage, I also am eligible for unemployment/disability insurance that the bank will pay premiums on for the first year. She said the bank will do that because the first year is always stressful for a first time homebuyer. It sure would take a load off my mind! After the first year, it can be cancelled. Also with the mortgage program, I won't have to escrow my taxes and insurance. Most other banks require this and it was a thorn in my side to think the mortgage company would be using my $$ for a year when I could be putting it in a savings account and earning interest on it myself. I also wouldn't have to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance) even though I'm putting down less than 20%. The loan officer also told me the interest rate went down since my last preapproval. Good to hear!! :D

I may just end up making an offer on a house soon!

Made it 6 Months

S and I made it to the 6-month mark last week. It's really not all that long, but it's a milestone when dating.

I have met a lot of his family members at various family functions and they all were well behaved. LOL! I didn’t just say that, did I? ;-) At the last function a couple weeks ago, his Dad stumbled and then introduced me as S’s “friend” to the neighbor’s daughter. Huh? Talk about awkward. I’m more than a friend (and he knows that). S says he’s not sure why his Dad did that. S has briefly met most of my family. They’re all dysfunctional... what can I say? At least my Dad introduced S to my aunt as my BF, and didn’t miss a beat.

In some ways, the comfort level is such it feels like we’ve known each other for much longer than 6 months. In other ways, it still feels like 6 months because of uncertainties that crop up every now and then. Usually I am not an insecure person so when I get to feeling that way, it weirds me out. So far, we’ve been able to talk through these issues. Afterwards, I think to myself: What have I done? I really don’t want to come off like a needy insecure woman. So then that bothers me. *sigh* With all the changes going on, maybe I just want to know everything is OK. Dunno.

Much to my surprise, we haven’t had any big blowout arguments. Still waiting for the shoe to drop on that one – maybe that’s because I’m used to my ex’s temper flaring out of control over the dumbest things. IMO, S and I interact pretty well and enjoy each other’s company.

The Home Search Goes On

Even though I really liked the house I talked about last month, it needs a LOT of updating. Plus with the front entrance the way it is, I don’t think I can fit some of my larger pieces of furniture around the corners. The back entrances are an option, but the furniture would have to be trekked up a steep hill and steep steps. Once inside the house, there is again a good possibility that the furniture wouldn't be able to be moved around the corners and down the narrow hallway. Even with everything that needs updating, my realtor said she got the impression from the listing agent that the sellers wouldn’t go lower than the 80’s (thousand). IMO, that's pretty expensive for a house that needs a lot of updating. For now, I’ve put that one on the back burner.

I’ve looked at more houses since then. S has gone with me on many of them, giving his opinion and pointing out things that sometimes I overlook.

We looked at one on the advice of my realtor. It was too big for me to start with. The best part of the house was the huge fireplace flanked by built-in bookcases in the living room. The worst part? The upstairs bedroom smelled like cat pee! It was so bad that it made my stomach roll...

One house we looked at was OK, except that the garage was built on to the house at a different time than when the house was built. In doing this, there is a window in the kitchen that looks into the garage. The bathroom had bright turquoise ceramic tile. There was a toilet in the basement... right out in the open! Another downer: One stall garage.

Another house was cute... had a fireplace in the living room and a nice little yard, but I didn’t like the kitchen. The master bedroom was upstairs (narrow staircase) with large mirrored doors that led into attic space. It was hotter than blue blazes up there. I was pretty sure that my furniture would not fit up the narrow staircase. Again, only one stall garage.

My realtor suggested I look at one that already had an offer on it. The yard was very tiny, but fenced in. The house was HUGE! The best part was the kitchen, even though it was dated. I kept thinking: I don’t want to clean this house, or heat it. The neighborhood wasn’t the greatest either.

I looked at another house in my hometown. It would need a new roof in a couple years... a complete tear off was in order. The basement is yucky with a narrow staircase. There is a parlor off the dining room that was made into a bedroom. What used to be a closet was made into a ½ bathroom with a tiny little 10” sink. The main bathroom is upstairs and it seemed to me that it used to be a bedroom because it has a huge closet in it. The room itself is pretty big also. The carpeting throughout is clearly 70’s – in the harvest gold and olive green colors. 3 different colors of carpeting upstairs. Windows downstairs were replaced with 60” ones but two of them on the front of the house are the kind that couldn’t be opened. The garage is portrayed as 3 stall – Yes, 3 cars could fit. Yes, it looks nice when the garage doors are closed. What does it look like when you open them? Like the garage was a shed at one time! Part of the flooring is dirt, part has some sort of tiles on it, and part is gravel. In the middle of it is this little room with a window. What’s room? Heck if I know! There was no way to get into it. My realtor surmises that it was an outhouse at one time. Nice... (not). My Dad thinks it might have been a woodshed. It seemed like the size of an outhouse to me. There were just too many oddities for me. Next.

The best one I looked at already had two offers on it. The second offer was by my boss’s 20-something daughter and son-in-law. Turns out they’re going to get it because the other couple didn't sell their home and couldn't afford two mortgages. It was a gorgeous little home with a great deck in the backyard and nicely landscaped. The only downside was the garage was one stall and there was no central air. It seems to be a theme in homes that range in the 80’s (thousands) – no central air.

Over the weekend, S and I went to several open houses. One was very, very scary! Two elderly sisters had lived there. One had died a few years ago. The other died recently. The entire house needed to be gutted and redone. The second story hadn’t been used in probably over a decade. Paper and paint were peeling off the wall and it smelled moldy and musty. The basement leaked and was very moldy and musty. My lungs were reeling for at least 30 minutes after leaving there. Another one we drove right on by. It wasn’t in the best neighborhood anyway.

We went to one open house that has potential. Pic is clickable for a better look. It’s a 1261-sq ft light brick bungalow style house with a matching brick garage. The garage is two stall and extra deep with room for storage in the rafters. It also has a garage door opener. The side door on the garage needs to be replaced, though. The exterior of the house is pretty much maintenance-free. Brick and vinyl siding with aluminum soffet and facia. The gutters are aluminum and in pretty good condition. The front yard has a huge pine tree. Lots of bushes along the front and side of the house. It’s a got little backyard with a huge shade tree, which is really nice. The backyard butts right up to (and I mean RIGHT up against) a commercial building. A 9-10 ft fence can hide the building which is exactly what I would do if I lived there. The house has all newer windows and is filled with hardwood flooring except for a 12x12 section in the living room area. Off of the living room is a 4-season room with French doors. Windows cover all the walls and it over looks the backyard. Hence the reason for the fence! I can picture a nice fence covered in flowering vines of some sort. The living room and dining room is in an “L” shape with a wood fireplace where both meet. The fireplace is light brick with ceramic tile at the base and a mantle above with some built-ins. I think it would be good to put a light/ceiling fan in the living room area to circulate air if the fireplace is being used. Currently there is no overhead lighting in the LR. The dining room has three tall windows that are built outward along with the wall to make like a bow window. You can see it in the pic on the right side of the house. It has a nice light fixture with a dimmer switch. The bathroom is kinda small – Big enough for one person only. It has an interesting medicine cabinet/mirror above the sink. It’s like a gilded frame around the mirrored door to the cabinet. Attached to the frame on both sides are ornate light fixtures. The odd thing about the bathroom is ceramic tile on the walls AND the entire ceiling. Those would have to go! No light fixture on the ceiling, thus no exhaust fan. It’s got a huge full (unfinished) basement with a full bath. That bath needs some serious cleaning! The woman who currently owns the house never used it, thus never cleaned it. The laundry area is in the basement. The downside is the furnace and central air is REALLY old. It would need to be replaced eventually. There is a walk up (unfinished) attic that I envisioned as a craft room (YES!). It could be made into a bedroom also. S thinks adding a dormer would make it a nice living area. The kitchen is functional, but badly needs updating. Stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, and garbage disposal goes with the kitchen. Both S and I like the thought of a dishwasher since neither of us like washing dishes! All the appliances except for the GD are dated, but functional. The cupboards and counter tops are dated. It has a stainless steel sink with only one bay. The kitchen is one room that I’d want to re-do. Even though the room is small, there’s one wall that’s wasted space. A set of 12-18” deep cupboards with a counter top would make it so much more functional. Overall, the entire house is "light and air-y" due to all the windows. I called my realtor today to set up a showing so I could have a second walk-thru.

Aug 2, 2007

Who Needs A Pool Boy?

I wish I could lounge around all day in my bikini and sip pina coladas while the hunky pool boy cleaned my pool, but I can't. Besides, how long do you think it'd take to clean a kiddie pool... and how silly would I look lounging beside it? LOL

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I had a pool vacuum that cleaned the debris from the pool using the water from the hose. Here's how it came out of the box:

I thought to myself: "Those little pieces of plastic are supposed to clean THAT junk out of the pool?" Following the vague directions on the box, I put everything together and came up with this -------------------->

There's a little white fine mesh bag that fits over the hole at the top. I took it off for the pic.

As water from the hose runs through this contraption, it creates some sort of suction like a vacuum. You push it slowly along the bottom of the pool and it sucks up the bugs, grass, and other yucky stuff. Granted it won't suck up leaves and sticks. I use a pool skimmer to clean all the big stuff out of the pool before using the vacuum. It does take a while to use the vacuum, but I think it does a fairly good job considering it's powered by water and is entirely plastic. The screw-together pole handle is a bit flimsy so I'd opt for the regular pole. Adapter for it is included with the vacuum. I've also found out that it works better if the pool water is at least as high as the vacuum.

Look at all the nasty junk I sucked up:

One of the nice things about this is it can be broken down and put into something the size of a shoe box. I bought one of those plastic storage containers that IS the size of a shoe box. I cut the directions off the box and stuck them in with the vacuum... Just in case *sometimers* disease sets in... (sometimes I fergit!)

Mime in Progress

This is my oldest UFO. It's called "Mime" by Candamar Designs. My oldest brother bought this kit for me as a Christmas gift back in the late 80's/early 90's (The copyright date of the kit is 1987!) when I first got serious about stitching. I did start stitching it back then. But, then it was buried amongst my cross stitch stuff for the longest time. I had forgotten about it until last year when I was going through my stuff. I decided it was about time I finished it. Here's the progress so far:

You can see other progress pics HERE.

It's a stamped, embellished kit and as you can see there is a LOT of backstitching. It doesn't take long to do, but it does get monotonous! It also seems that I'm taking a step backward in stitching this since my stitching skills have advanced soooo much since I first received this kit. But because my brother gave it to me, I'm going to finish it and put it up on my wall of stitching. Or, maybe I'll give it to his youngest daughter for her room.... Now there's a thought.... Hmmmm

Twisted Oaks Designs

I've had the Stitching Treasures Collection II on my wishlist for a while now. So when the opportunity presented itself on ebay a couple weeks ago, I placed my bid. I am now the proud owner of STC!

There was another seller who had the French Monogram Collection III up for sale, so I put my bid a that one too. I'm a happy camper!! :D

Aug 1, 2007

Fresh Veggies!

Mmmm... Don'tcha just love summer? I don't like the heat, but I love the fresh veggies that are ready to eat at this time of year. Due to the generosity of a coworker, I was able to put some fresh corn in the freezer.

Didn't take too long either. From this:

To this:

And finally.... Viola! Enough for at least 6 meals.

A generous Freecycler dropped off a couple of zucchini and a bag of cucumbers today. I see refrigerator pickles in my future... Yum!